We are getting very close to a backer release for the testing of the Survival Sandbox mode. I'm going to get into my development progress since last month, but first I wanted to give a little more detail about how the rollout will work for the backer release.
First off, the release will be managed through the Humble Store download pages that you claimed with your Kickstarter email address. This will not be done through Steam just yet. I haven't gotten to Steam integration yet, so to start with all backers will need to download updated builds through the Humble Store download pages similar to how you downloaded the old demo for Lacuna Passage Prologue.
This rollout will happen in waves according to your Kickstarter Backer reward level, with Beta level backers and above getting access first. I'm only one developer, so I can't handle large numbers of bug reports and requests all at once. We will gradually rollout access until all backers are included. Then we will work on bug fixing, planned feature additions, and requested feature additions until I think we are ready to launch on Steam Early Access. I will then transition to Steam integration and all backers able to access build updates automatically through Steam. If some of you don't want to worry about encountering excessive bugs or having to manually update your build then I would suggest that you wait until I am able to add Steam integration before you try the game.
My development roadmap labels can help you determine what is and is not planned for the Early Access release. The Early Access release will be considered Survival Sandbox 1.0. However, not everything that is planned for Survival Sandbox 1.0 will be included in the initial backer release. So, what won't be in the backer release? Some things are practically finished but will not be included in the backer release because I want to get feedback on specific features and game mechanics before adding more features. Other features are just not ready yet. Here are a few notable things that will be absent from the initial backer release but will come in build updates prior to the Early Access Survival Sandbox 1.0:
- Dust Storms/Dust Devils
- These are practically complete, but since they are inherently random, I want to filter out any bugs that may be difficult to track down if they are bugs that sometimes occurring during random storms for some players and not for others.
- Saving and loading game progress
- This might seem like an odd omission, but I would like to focus early bug reports to the first 1-2 hours of gameplay. Early build updates might break game saves anyway so I want to avoid that at first.
- Deployable Emergency Pop Tents
- Since these provide a temporary shelter during storms and a place to save your game while on an EVA, there is no need to include them if those other features are not in place.
- Some audio and music
- Early backer builds may be noticeably absent of most audio and music. This is partly to save filesize for early build updates, but I also have just not had the development resources to focus on these aspects yet. They will be improved before the Early Access release.
One of my contract artists and long-time contributors to Lacuna Passage, Jeremy Brown, is nearly complete with what I hope will become one of our most iconic assets - the EVA suit.
So far only the high poly and low poly models are complete and already I think it looks great. It should look even better soon when the textures are finished.
Jeremy has also completed a wonderful new flag asset that I have applied cloth physics to, allowing it to react to our wind direction and intensity.
I've also begun the final lightmapping process on the habitat interiors. I've completed Habitat Alpha which you can see below.
I have two more habitat arrangements to complete, but all that consists of is essentially just rearranging the modular interior wall segments and rendering new lightmaps. This will help to distinguish the three discoverable habitats from each other while exploring the interiors.
I can also report that all 92 randomized discoverable locations on the map have been placed and the container contents of each location are being randomized on each new playthrough.
On top of all that I have punched out dozens of tiny bugs and added many quality-of-life improvements. None of which would be super exciting to describe here, but I've personally been testing the game lately and it's honestly starting to feel like a very compelling gameplay loop.
All-in-all, things are going great. Development progress has continued at a steady pace despite my wife and I working hard to prepare for our first child, and hopefully I can get our backers access to build downloads without much more delay. Hang in there!